News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 25, 2008

Rub of the Green: Looking back 50 years at golf tournaments

By Bob Arnett

On the local scene 50 years ago, the Terre Haute Golf Association had readied a slate of tournaments for Terre Haute and Wabash Valley divoteers.

One of the most popular Terre Haute tournaments was the Nichols Loan 4 Ball in which after qualifying, the eight low scorers were paired with each of the next eight higher qualifiers to make up eight two man teams.

The “Terre Haute Tribune” reported as follows: “A former ISTC and present ISTC golfer tied for low medal scores for the first day of play in the Nichols Loan 4 Ball. “Bob Arnett and Harry Secrest shot 73s on a very wet and windy Rea Park course.”

Earning their way to the semifinal round were the tandems of Bob Westrup and Harold Monroney, George Kaperak and Warren Artz, Secrest and Jim Wolfe along with Gary Giffel and Art Blakely. In the championship match Kaperak and Artz won over Giffel and Blakely.

Flight winners were: First flight, Willy Wisely; second flight Dale Murphy and Norm Criss; third flight, Claude “Mac’ McCalister and Ray Allenbaugh; fourth flight Tye Bensley and Lloyd Perdieu; fifth flight, Bill Peck and Fay Harreoun; sixth flight Dan Hogg and Don Clarke.

The 8th Annual American Legion golf tourney sponsored by Krietenstein Post 104 and Marshall (Ill.) Post 90 were accepting entries. Players called Joe Benna at the athletic office at Post 104 for details.

In a popular tournament named Round Up of Champions and sponsored by Country Club of Terre Haute, Art Blakely took the prize for low score. Club champions from throughout the Wabash Valley plus a large number of top amateurs made this a tournament which attracted a large entry.

Terre Haute had two “City Championships” back in 1958. One was contested at match play, the other at stroke play. P.C. Hill was the owner of several popular hamburger restaurants called Hills Snappy Service. For several years the “Hills Match Play” was one of the most popular events on local golf calendars. McMillan Sports took over the sponsorship of this competition several years after it was initiated.

The qualifying round would see long hitting Mark Fisk, with the assistance of a hole in one on number three at Rea Park, fired a 68 to take medalist honors. Jim Wolfe had 70, whereas Bill Doan and George Kaperak carded 71s. The low 16 players would make up the championship flight.

First round winners played a second round on Sunday to trim the field to four semi finalists. In third round action Fisk would win by a 3 and 2 count over George Kaperak and Arnett would eliminate John Tindall 4 and 3.

In the 36 hole final, the match was tied after 29 holes, but a pair of birdies on the final 72 holes decided the match in Fisks’ favor by a 2 and 1 count. Ironically, Fisk and Arnett were teammates on the 1952 ISTC golf team, a squad that won the Indiana College Golf Championship.

Fisk was undoubtedly one of the longest drivers of the golf ball in the entire country. At the National Intercollegiate Golf Championship in Abilene (Tex.) back in 1952, Mark won the driving contest with a 343-yard blast. With today’s clubs and golf balls, that figure could translate to something near 400 yards.

Flight winners in the McMillan Match Play were as follows: First, Bob Westrup; second, Jim Burland; third, Bill Mitchell; fourth, Ernie Woods; fifth, Bill Peck; sixth, Lloyd Peridieu; seventh, Bill Ennis, eighth, Dick Tickner; ninth, John Flood.

Rea Park pro, Mike Kaperak, shot 71 to place third in the professional division of the Casey Open. Herman “Lefty” Compton won first flight honors in the amateur division.

The Terre Haute Medal Play (stroke play is proper now) attracted 308 players five decades ago. Setting the early pace were the following contenders: Gene Verostko and Bob Westrup each shot 69’s; Bill Doan and Lew John posted 72’s, and defending champion Warren Artz and Tommy Long each finished first round play with 73’s. After 36 holes Verostko stretched his lead to 4 shots. By the time the tournament ended,

Verostko would win by 11 shots for a 275 total of 9-under par and a new tournament record.

After winning his sixth city championship Gene Verostko went on to claim 12 more to total 18 city stroke play titles throughout a career that saw the ultra-talented divot man win well over 100 tournaments.

Gene stamped himself as a favorite in most any tournament he entered. He was indeed, Terre Haute’s “Mr. Golf”. His trademark was the ability to follow a poor shot (of which there weren’t many) with one that was spectacular. During his golfing heyday, Gene Verostko had no equal in the Wabash Valley.

Mark Fisk would take runner-up honors with 286. Other players and their scores follow: Joe Higgins 290; Art Blakely 290; Bob Arnett 295; Warren Artz 296; Tommy Long and Jim Wolfe 296; Bob Westrup and Bill Doan 300; George Forsythe 301; George Kaperak 302; Ed Stout 303; J. Kelly 304; Bill Kipple 307; Russ Roberts, Dan Davis, and Lew John 309.

Flight winners were: First flight Harry Secrest; second flight, Bill Alumbaugh; third flight, D. Murphy; fourth flight, Wayne Gormong; fifth flight, Lou Peck; sixth flight, R. Bland; seventh flight Herman Devine; eighth flight, Gene Moses; ninth flight, Harry Auterburn.

Bob Westrup defeated Ed Ijams for Country Club of Terre Haute Club Championship.

In the 1958 Women’s City Tourney Mrs. Bud Werneke was the defending champion. Mrs. Ray Swift and Mrs. Harry Staats shot 91’s to tie for medalist honors. Mrs. Mary Alice Knowles defeated Mrs. Staats for the championship 6 and 5.

Flight winners were: First flight, Babe Wisely, second flight, Mrs. Howard Harmon, and third flight, Mrs. Robert Shiflet.

A new competition began in 1958. The Nichols Loan Round Robin was open to the players who finished in the top 20 in the city stroke play tournament. After being paired by means of a blind draw, each two man team played a nine-hole match against each of the other nine teams. A running score was kept. If you won a match by 3 holes, you received 3 points, then if you lost the next match by 2 holes, your score would be plus one.

Imported sterling silver mugs were presented to top finishers. George Kaperak and Bill Kipple won the event by one point over Secrest and Arnett.

As we said, “Time flies,” but the memories often linger for a lifetime.

Bob Arnett can be reached by e-mail at subob@aol.com or by mail at the Tribune-Star, P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808.